“Stand right here. Align your shoulders with their shoulders. Place your feet shoulder-width apart. Raise your arms up with bent elbows. Bend your knees. Now look at them directly in their eyes. And whatever you do, do not let them get around you! How we position ourselves with the other person will make all the difference.”
I have had the great fortune to literally teach hundreds of young people how to position their bodies to play basketball.
Body position in relationship to the other person is critical . . . and now I’m talking about life in general. My executive coach shared with me years ago that, as a leader, individuals generally position themselves next to you in one of three positions. First, there are those who are, as my coach said, “Kissing your backside.” Second, there are those who are aggressively in your face. And finally, there are those who are standing next you, seriously interested in working with you. The challenge, according to my coach, is that there are significantly more of the first two kinds of people and a lot less of third: those who want to work as colleagues, collaborating with you.
In discussing this further, my coach went on to describe one of the core differences in the dynamic between the first two positions and the third. One and two are all about transaction. Whether buttering you up or being inappropriately demanding, the expectation is clear: they want something from you. The third position, however, is at its core about transformation. The desired outcome of this position is to work together to create, innovate, or adapt to the given situation.
This last weekend’s Gospel about the ten lepers is, in my mind, a great example of how folks positioned themselves with relation to Jesus. Nine were very much positioned themselves for a transactional relationship with Jesus. They wanted Jesus to heal them, which of course on the surface is clearly appropriate. However, after Jesus gave them what they wanted, they were gone. Conversely, the one remaining leper demonstrated a desire to actually be IN relationship with Jesus, which, subsequently, is what truly transformed him. As Jesus states, “Your faith has made you well!”
For me, in my own faith and life journey, I continue to reflect on how one positions oneself with relation to others. What I know is that I can be aware of, but not control, how others position themselves to me. What I do have control of is how I position myself with others. Am I positioning myself transactionally? Or, am I positioning myself to be IN relationship, companionship? This, as it does with Jesus, always leads to transformation.